Classic Cars

Electric conversions of classic cars are on the rise and that’s why

Electric conversions of classic cars are on the rise and that's why

The EV conversion means vintage beauties like these can stay in working order (Picture: Lunaz)

There’s something strikingly different about the early ’90s Porsche 911 I drive.

It looks and sounds like an arcade game; the dual stainless steel pipes aren’t exaggerated exhausts, they’re actually speakers; and its flat-six engine has replaced by an electric motor.

This one was converted by an Oxfordshire company called Everrati.

Recognizing that half the fun of a sports car is the noise it makes, they added audible innovations, including digital revs selected from an app and connected to the accelerator pedal.

The haptics even allow the bodywork, shifter and steering wheel to vibrate when I press the accelerator, to simulate the experience of rear-mounted punching cylinders. The efficiency is superior to its internal combustion past. It is by far the happiest electric vehicle I have driven so far.

This gorgeous vintage Porsche has a high-tech electric motor (Photo: Rick Noel)

The engine is, traditionally, considered the heart and soul of a car, which is why ripping one out is considered sacrilege by many classic connoisseurs.

So why would anyone gut the interior of a petrol-powered Carrera and replace it with a more modern electric powertrain?

According to Fuzz Townshend of Car SOS, classic cars could perform better after being converted to run on electricity and thus provide a “more enjoyable driving experience”. It’s also true that even under the most diligent maintenance routine, classic cars have a reputation for being unreliable.

So if Porsches, E-Type Jags and MGBs, for example, are to remain on our roads for decades to come, they may need to change their tune.

Additionally, as more and more people attempt to protect their beloved vehicles from legislative or tax changes and fuel availability issues, it is easy to see why electric car conversions are taking off.

From gasoline to electricity

Companies like Everrati start with a donor car that you can provide or they can provide you. Of course, the cost of a conversion can vary. A car like the converted 1991 911 (964) Carrera 4 will cost around £50,000.

Everrati performs a full restoration and removes all gas-powered parts (which you can keep – they’ll even turn the motor into a coffee table for you), replacing them with 53kWh lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor.

The batteries are in the spaces where the transmission and fuel tank would have been.

Everrati is leading the charge when it comes to classic car conversions (Photo: Everrati)

Power is equivalent to 500hp and overall the car is 20kg lighter thanks to the carbon fiber body panels. Everrati is charging over £200,000 plus VAT for the conversion. It’s not cheap – but with government plans to phase out petrol vehicles, it’s future proof.

And it’s not just exotics. Everrati converts 1960s Land Rover IIAs (£150,000 + VAT + donor car) and they’re not the only company to do so. Several have been bought by luxury hotels in the Caribbean, while Glastonbury bought three electric Defenders for the music festival.

This booming industry has seen hundreds of small companies and men in sheds start producing electric vehicle conversions since 2017. The top five players in this space are Everrati, London Electric Cars, Lunaz (in which David Beckham invested), Electric Classic Cars and Electrogenic.

London Electric Cars operates at the cheaper end of the scale. He specializes in Minis and Morris Minors and will convert a donor car for around £25,000.

The range of these cars can range from 40 to 300 miles but, in general, the larger the car, the more batteries it can accommodate – and therefore the further it will go.

Retro Minis and Morris Minors can be converted for just £25,000 (Picture: London Electric Cars)

Lunaz’s Rolls-Royce Phantom (£600,000) should take you the furthest, but the Silverstone-based company is fully booked for the next two years.

“These are beautiful objects that are in great danger, and there is a sense that young drivers want to preserve and carry forward the legacy of these cars,” said Lunaz founder David Lorenz.

All the pros, no cons

We talk about range anxiety today when it comes to owning electric vehicles, but what happens in 2035 when gas stations start to disappear?

Many car owners from the 1980s and 1990s have already been hit by London’s ULEZ charges and this is expected to spread to other cities across the UK and the Continent. And let’s not even talk about gas prices right now.

The other downside to internal combustion classics is the oil puddles they leave on your driveway.

As romantic as these machines are, they can ruin a weekend when they stop on the A303. By replacing the motor with an electric motor, you can reduce the risk of having to call the AA.

The ultimate upcycling

Owning a classic car has been inaccessible to many in the past because they don’t want to do their own maintenance. Electric conversions can be expensive, but once you sort out the exhaust, the cars are cheap, durable and easier to use.

Plus, classic EVs, with their unmistakable, sexy curves, can be much faster, more responsive, and ultimately better to drive than in their original guise. What’s more, if you manage to preserve a beautiful vintage vehicle for more than 50 years, you earn points not only for aesthetics, but also for environmental protection.

EV conversions mean gorgeous vintage cars like this Aston Martin DB6 can stay roadworthy for longer (Picture: Lunaz)

Everrati CEO Justin Lunny likens converting electric vehicles to buying a battery in the country.

“You want a country house to be old and architecturally charming, and you don’t want to do anything to spoil that, but you also expect it to have modern heating and a modern kitchen “, he says.

After all, market information from EV drivers gives figures of 90-99% saying they will never go back to a combustion car again.

Lunny says: “It means the market for fun and engaging cars is going to explode.

A regal electric classic

The first electric classic most people will have seen is the Jaguar E-Type Zero in which the newly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their wedding outing in 2018.

This car was converted in-house by Jaguar (internally it was known as Project Marmite) and can hit 0-60mph in just 5.5 seconds.

Meghan and Harry left their wedding in this £360,000 converted Jaguar E-Type (Picture: Neil Mockford/GC Images)

The price is £60,000 plus the donor’s car (Harry and Meghan cost around £300,000).

Aston Martin followed that up with a £995,000 DB6 Volante. “We need to make sure we’ve covered the next 100 years,” says Paul Spires, chairman of Aston Martin Works, “to make sure these vehicles don’t become museum pieces.”

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